Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas and Traditions While Homeschooling

The month of December is a very special time at our place! When we began homeschooling, it was a natural thing to spend the entire month of December on a study of the real meaning of Christmas. We spent many hours, gathered around in the living room, reading the Bible and learning about the prophecies of His birth and how they were fulfilled. The whole family worked on projects together – things that would help others, from cookie trays to baby blankets to quilts for the abused children’s shelter, we all created and helped. We learned so much about God’s plan, His love, and how to love and serve others in Decembers here.
We also formed some long-lasting family traditions during those Decembers - traditions that we continue to this day, as the kids come home from all over the place, and bring friends along with them. Their dad has always been the best cook in the house, and he began having them help him make all kinds of Christmas goodies back in the early days of our homeschooling. They would all take part in this big messy, totally fun event, creating treats for neighbors and friends near and far. We also had one craft project that we worked on each night, gathered around the kitchen table. I will never forget the year that we painted small plaster of Paris houses to form a Christmas village – great conversations and loads of laughter. Every year had a new project that matched the varying ages and skill levels, and each time we made some fantastic memories of the heart.

I hope that you and your crew can have a Christmas season to remember this year. These ARE the good old days for your children!



Amanda B.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Memories to Share

As we head for the holidays with our Christmas Unit Study Adventure, we would love to share some Christmas book suggestions for you to enjoy with your family while you are creating memories!

Family Read Aloud:


Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent, by Arnold Ytreeide.
This is an exciting advent story for the whole family about a ten year-old boy, Jotham, and his journey across Israel in search of his family. His adventures are exciting -- this is the first advent book that we read completely through, cover to cover!

General Family Interest:

Stories of the Great Christmas Carols, by Kenon Renfrow and June Montgomery. Published by Alfred Publishing Company.

Ten beloved Christmas carols are included in this engaging book, along with historical information about the origins of each carol. This edition contains an easy-to-read story of the creation of each carol; a simplified arrangement of each carol with text; information on those who wrote the text and the music; plus a fun activity page that reviews the information presented. Songs include: Angels from the Realms of Glory, Away in a Manger, The First Noel, Hark! the Herald Angels Sing, O Come, All Ye Faithful, O Holy Night, Silent Night, What Child Is This, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks.

Younger Students:

The Jesse Tree, by Geraldine McCaughrean. Published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.

  As Mr. Butterfield carves a Jesse Tree in an old dusty church, a curious young boy distracts him, asking about the various symbols on the tree. Against his better judgment, the old man finds himself retelling the familiar Biblical tales that trace the lineage of Christ, from the Garden of Eden to Jesus' birth. Under the carpenter's skilled hands, the Jesse tree grows--and an unlikely friendship begins to take root as well. The Jesse Tree will captivate readers who know and love the Bible stories as well as those who are reading them for the first time. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Older Students:

One Wintry Night, by Ruth Bell Graham. Published by Baker Books.

This is one of our family favorites for all ages. In this beautifully illustrated book, a young injured boy seeks help from a grandmotherly woman during a snowstorm. While the two wait out the storm in her cabin, the woman lovingly shares the story of the Bible from Creation to the Resurrection, and each chapter ends with a bit of a cliffhanger -- perfect for family reading time during December.

Be sure to visit our Christmas Facebook Co-op, and share your Christmas discoveries, activities and inspirations with us!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Welcome to the Christmas Co-op!

Good morning, friends!  Welcome to our Christmas Facebook Co-op!

 Beginning today, we invite you to share your experiences as you use the USAB  Christmas Unit Study Adventure. We'll be here to answer your questions and help along the way as we are working through the unit study with you!
This Christmas Co-op will include a new Search for the Savior printable activity, a daily prophecy that the Lord fulfilled, a counting of joys in this season (and the free JOY printable) , plus a Christmas carol/hymn, and lots of fun Christmas activities and recipes to try! 

Please feel free to post your questions, finds, ideas, and pictures. Throughout the weekdays, we will be posting some tips and treasures, along with our insights and ideas. It is our prayer that this co-op effort will provide community, caring and creativity for us all!

The Christmas study always brings some memorable insights—realizations, ah-ha moments, and precious memories.   Enjoy this time with your families and your friends!


Amanda B.

Here are Week One's Learning Objectives: 

  • Recognizing the celebration of Christmas and what it means to the student
  • Learning more about the story of Christ‘s birth - specifically Mary and the events that occurred prior to Jesus‘ birth
  • Becoming familiar with the geography of the Middle East at the time of Jesus‘ birth
  • Developing an understanding of the observation of the Advent celebration


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Delicious Traditions


"Around this time of year, my precious mother-in-law, Patsy Clark, gathered with her friends to make batches and batches of homemade sugar cookies. Every time our family makes these cookies, including when we gather with some of our friends for a fun-filled cookie baking day, we are reminded of so many special memories of Nana Clark. Oh, how we miss her, but we are very thankful for her example and legacy of faith in the Savior!"   Laura Clark

Homemade Sugar Cookies

1 lb butter
4 eggs
4 cups sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tbl pure almond extract
2 oz pure vanilla
flour to stiffen--about 10 cups
1 tsp baking soda dissolved in a little hot water

Cream together butter, eggs, sugar, almond and vanilla extracts. In a separate bowl, add cream of tartar to flour. Gradually add flour to butter/sugar mixture and mix well. After 4-5 cups of flour has been added, mix in baking soda/hot water mixture. Continue to add in flour (@9-10 cups--don't make dough too stiff).

It's easier to work with the dough after it has chilled in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Roll out cookie dough (we prefer to roll dough thin) on parchment paper, cut with cookie cutters, peel away extra dough, and decorate with sprinkles. Bake cookies in 350-375 oven until lightly brown, about 7-9 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on cookie rack then store in air tight container or cookie jar.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Storewide Black Friday Sale

55% Off
5 - 7 a.m.

50% Off
7 - 10 a.m.

45% Off
10 a.m. - noon

30% Off
 noon - midnight
All sale start and end times are stated as of Mountain Standard Time zone, November 23, 2012 only

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving, and THANKS!


Blessed Thanksgiving to you and your family! This is a very special time for us all, and we want to thank you for your support and encouragement. When we count our blessings, you all are among the best of them. You question, share, encourage, and bring smiles into our lives as well as the lives of many others around the globe as you use our studies to explore creation. We are so very thankful for you!

For those of you who participated in our Thanksgiving co-op on Facebook this past month, please know that you made this Thanksgiving season special for so many others. I will never look at the Blessings Tree the same way again; your sharing of ideas and pictures put a whole new glow on making these new friends your family. You shared ideas, books, recipes, and much more. I hope that it has helped you as you have homeschooled this month.

We are busy putting the finishing touches on the upcoming Christmas Facebook co-op, which will begin on Monday, November 26. If you are using the Christmas unit study, please join our Facebook co-op as you go through the study in the weeks ahead. Focused on the birth of our Savior and the fulfillment of prophecies, this study touches my heart every Christmas season as I learn more and celebrate this season of joy!

I know the days ahead will be very busy, but I’ve got one quick reminder: Please keep an eye on your email—we’ll have several BIG announcements and savings extravaganzas in the coming weeks!



Amanda B.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Night-Before-Thanksgiving Tradition

I wish you could join me here at the kitchen table, looking out over the Appalachians as the leaves change color, and share the spectacular view. I love this season of thanksgiving and look forward to a wonderful holiday spent with family and friends.

With the busy holiday season almost here, I am trying to plan a bit of thanksgiving into our Thanksgiving schedule. The evening before Thanksgiving, we will be celebrating, naming and giving thanks for our many blessings—birthdays, recognizing the passing of loved ones and friends, college degrees obtained, goals achieved, and all kinds of other blessings that have occurred in the past year.

With a crowd of more than 30 people passing through here in the next few weeks, it is easy to overlook the actual giving of thanks for our blessings. While Thanksgiving Day is very special, it is BUSY and fun in a never-a-dull-moment kind of way. By taking the time the night before, we can all sit around the fire as we work on our traditional jigsaw puzzles on card tables and name and give thanks for special blessings. The pace is quieter and more reflective, and the feeling of gratitude deepens as we reflect and remember together.


Amanda B.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Favorites to Share!

It's not too late to enjoy some Thanksgiving reading with your family! Here's a couple more favorites for you to explore together.

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving , by Eric Metaxas. .

This entertaining and historical story shows that the actual hero of the first Thanksgiving was neither white nor Indian, but God. In 1608, English traders came to Massachusetts and captured a 12-year-old Indian, Squanto, and sold him into slavery. He was raised by Christians and taught faith in God. Ten years later he was sent home to America. Upon arrival, he learned an epidemic had wiped out his entire village. But God had plans for Squanto. God delivered a Thanksgiving miracle: An English-speaking Indian living in the exact place where the Pilgrims land in a strange new world. Recommended for ages 5 to 10.

Cranberry Thanksgiving, by Wende and Harry Devlin.

A mystery to solve, Thanksgiving dinner, and a recipe for Cranberry bread - all included in this classic holiday tale for the whole family. This book will have your family in the kitchen again! Ages 4 and up.

Visit us on Facebook as we finish our Thanksgiving Study and prepare for Christmas Facebook Co-op - starting Monday, November 26th.

Monday, November 19, 2012

It's Thanksgiving Week!


Welcome back to our Thanksgiving Unit Study Facebook Co-op
 It's our final week...Thanksgiving is almost here!
Here are this week's Learning Objectives:
  • Discover the crops the Pilgrims planted the first spring in America
  • Explore the early development of Plymouth
  • Find out more about the harvest celebration - what the festival was like, who attended, what they ate
  • Study the history of the Thanksgiving holiday in America

We invite you to share your experiences, we would love to hear what you and your children have learned along the way.

It is our prayer that this co-op effort has provided help, friendship, and fellowship for us all!


Amanda B.

If you are enjoying this journey - you will not want to miss the Christmas Facebook Co-op, beginning on Monday, November 26th. We have a new Bible study activity - created just for this Co-op, a new companion lapbook, and Christmas printables. It's going to be a great season! To help you prepare - you can pick up the Christmas Unit Study Adventure for just $6!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Making Thanksgiving Blessing Ornaments

Here's a new idea to try while counting and giving thanks for the year’s blessings with the crowd around your Thanksgiving table.

Using the clear glass ornaments, or any other type available  and some glass paints, have everyone decorate their own ornament with their favorite blessing of this past year in words or pictures or symbols. What a fun reminder! Make sure they put their name and the year on the bottom of the ornament. (Don't forget to take a picture and share it with us during our Thanksgiving Facebook Co-op!)

They can take their ornaments home to use with their own Christmas decorations, and remember the fun that they had over the Thanksgiving 2012 holiday.

These are the special days that your children will recall. Make them memorable as they learn the true meaning of the holidays, and enjoy this time together. Work together as a family as you prepare for the holiday, create loving gifts, and make plans to bless others.

Thanks for your friendship—I count you all among my special blessings!


Amanda B.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

NEW - Discover the Senses is here!

Through 11/18/12
Discover the Senses will be the first in our Discover the Human Body collection in the Download N Go series for grades K - 4. Covering science, history, geography, and much more, this new series of discovery is sure to be a hit!

God designed the human body in ways that are astounding—so complex that we can’t begin to fathom the details He took care of as He created man. Of these details, our senses are the ones that enable us to interact with the world that He made, allowing us to taste, touch, see, hear, and smell. Each of these senses is a gift, and together they make a perfect topic of discovery for children.

In this study, your child will investigate a new sense each day, learning what it is and how it works, as well as what it does for him. He will learn what impacts that particular sense; for example, without light, we have no sight! He will also learn about limitations of that sense, and how modern innovation has helped overcome some of the restrictions. And he will meet some of history’s heroes, such as Louis Braille, who helped along the way. Each day, your student will explore and investigate, creating and adding more learning components to his Discover the Senses lapbook—building a wonderful reminder of all that he is learning to be enjoyed for years to come.

Discover the Senses is a terrific adventure, from taste tests to smell experiments, this study will capture their imagination, teach them about how wonderfully they are made, and help them learn more about their Creator as they travel the path of the study.

Check out the Discover the Senses lapbook:
Take a peek inside this unit.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bountiful Bread, Perfect for the Holidays!


Bread. Just the smell of this wonderful food can get the immediate attention of most people! So many fun and memorable childhood events include memories of bread making and baking. From holiday favorites to daily breads, this food item dates way back to biblical times and still plays an important role in our lives. Christmas and Thanksgiving breads are both featured in the "Bread for the Holidays" section!
How about trying some Pumpkin Bread  oItalian Christmas bread - Panettone  - just a few of the delicious recipes included in this study.
At our house, my homemade rolls have always been a favorite addition to any meal. From the time the children were young, they loved watching the process and eating the results! When studying bread, your child will investigate the science of bread—what the steps are to make bread and what happens at each step to create the finished product. They will learn about some of the many types of bread along with their country of origin; geography lessons via the dinner plate are always memorable!

The Holidays are a great time to catch a breath of some fresh learning (and bread!) in your home with Bountiful Bread Download N Go. 

Take a Peek Inside


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Time to share your Favorites!

We hope you're enjoying the Thanksgiving reading suggestions to accompany your Thanksgiving Unit Study!  Do you have favorites to  share with us?  Here's a couple more you don't want to pass up...

Eating The Plates: A Pilgrim Book of Food and Manners, by Lucille Recht Penner. Published by Aladdin Paperbacks.

Learn all about the table manners (not many!), food, and cooking of the Pilgrims. There are recipes that your family can cook together, providing a first-hand appreciation of the spices and foods that we take for granted these days. Ages 6 and up.

Younger Students:

When Bartholemew, Remember, and Mary Allerton and their parents first step down from the Mayflower after sixty days at sea, they never dream that life in the New World will be so hard. Many in their Plymouth colony won't make it through the winter, and the colony's first harvest is possible only with the help of two friends, Samoset and Squanto. Richly detailed paintings show how the pilgrims lived after landing at Plymouth, through the dark winter and into the busy days of spring, summer, and fall. Culminating with the excitement of the original Thanksgiving feast, Three Young Pilgrims makes history come alive. Recommended for ages 5 to 10.

Goody O’Grumpity, by Carol Ryrie Brink. Published by North-South Books.

A fun book to read, and then you can bake the spice cake that Goody O‘Grumpity bakes for hungry children. The story of Goody O‘Grumpity was written in a 1937 poem by Carol Ryrie Brink. The illustrator researched the poem, and her esearch led to Plimoth Plantation! Ages 4 and up.

Older Students:

Faith Unfurled: The Pilgrims’ Quest for Freedom, edited by Sheila Foley. Published by History Compass.

A valuable collection of journal entries, poetry, and other resource material that provides insight about the determination and faith of the Pilgrims. Ages 13 and up.

Come visit us  our Facebook Thanksgiving Co-op - and share your favorite Thanksgiving ideas with us!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Welcome to Week 3 and a Great Giveaway!

Good morning, friends! Welcome back to our Thanksgiving Facebook Co-op! Can you believe we're already to Week 3?

Take a peek at this week's learning objectives:

  • Discover what the Pilgrims found when they reached America
  • Explore the problems in finding a suitable location for their colony
  • Examine how the Pilgrims fared the first winter and some of the problems that they faced
  • Find out how the Pilgrims interacted with the Native Americans

Don't miss our USAB Geography Studies Specials, your children are going to be begging for more!

Plus - We have a new and exciting giveaway this week--5 winners will be selected to win the all new Expedite board game!
Figure out how to connect the world in this face-paced, exciting, route-building game.  Using your strategy, planning and a little luck, you could Expedite your way to a win!

For 2 - 4 players, 10 years and up.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thanksgiving Traditions - Then and Now

Over the years, I have often been asked, “What are some of the fun Thanksgiving traditions at the Bennett house?” So today, I am providing two sets of answers—the first from about 10 years ago, and the second set of current traditions, after 18 years of homeschooling. J

 I hope the comparison helps you get a better perspective on what you are doing right now as you study Thanksgiving with your children. I can tell you, the best is yet to come!
 1. Then: Planning the holiday weekend with the whole family in early November - who shall we invite, which relatives will be here, what games shall we all play after dinner?
Now: We still do this, but now it is mainly via cell phone, email, and text messaging. They all bring plenty of M&Ms and friends, and the board game competitions go on for days, along with plenty of laughter and sharing of memories.

2. Then: Planning the menu so that everyone gets to choose a favorite food to be included.
Now: They are all excellent cooks, so this year, they are taking on the menu planning and cooking responsibilities—even cleanup! J

3. Then: Putting up a blessings tree, making the tree trunk from brown paper, and each family member adding daily, colorful construction paper leaves to the tree. A blessing is written on each leaf—some thing that the family member is thankful for.

Now: I am going to be pulling out some of those precious saved leaves to keep on the Thanksgiving table—so many sweet memories!

4. Then: Finding ways to bless others—sharing the blessings by packing Operation Christmas Child boxes for children and taking homemade gift baskets of goodies to neighbors and those in need.
 Now: We still make the gift baskets and find ways to bless others, both near and far.

5. Then: Bringing out the special Thanksgiving creations collected over the years—a model of the Mayflower, a special Thanksgiving unit study tablecloth, handmade pilgrims and Native Americans, pinecone turkeys, and a basket of some of our favorite holiday books.
Now: I still do these things, and it always stirs up plenty of memories and lots of conversation.
Enjoy these days, for they ARE the “good old days” for your children!
 Amanda B.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"Mom, What is a Veteran?"

How could I connect the soldiers that were part of our lives every day with the concept of veterans and Veterans Day?

I wanted them to know what heroes we were in the midst of, and the heroes that were in their own family history, along with the price paid for the simplest of our freedoms. I explained, we studied and read and talked, and the light dawned.

They understood when the veterans were on the street corners and at the store entrances, offering red poppies. They smiled, watching me thank soldiers that we happened by at the store, in church, in homeschool gatherings, or on long walks. They began to understand and connect what the thanks were given for, how soldiers and veterans are connected, and why we honor these special people called veterans.
To all of you who are veterans, we offer many heartfelt thanks for your service. You are priceless and a national treasure! To those of you in military families, we thank you for your sacrifices as your family is often moved, separated, and under stress. Thanks, and thanks again.

Amanda B.
 PS - Don't miss our Limited time Veterans Day Study - just $3 through 11/11/12!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

More Thanksgiving Favorites to Share

We’re back with more Thanksgiving Book favorites to share. Are you enjoying this special time with your children? We hope you can use these suggestions to make some memories together!
Family Read Alouds:

My Name is America: The Journal of Jasper Jonathan Pierce, A Pilgrim Boy, Plymouth 1620(Dear America), by Ann Rinaldi.  

In 1620, an indentured servant named Jasper Jonathan Pierce sets sail with his master and 100 others on the Mayflower, seeking adventure, freedom from the rules of King James's church, and a new way of life in America.

While many people are familiar with the history of the Pilgrims, popular historical novelist Ann Rinaldi delves far deeper into the day-to-day life of these brave pioneers. Beleaguered by internal strife and sickness, the passengers and crew of the Mayflower arrived in Plymouth ill-equipped to last the winter. With the help of several Indians who befriended the settlers, many survived, although a number of them died. Viewed through the eyes of 14-year-old Jasper, who records the events of his first 15 months in America in his journal, the Pilgrims' experiences take on a fresh, current feel. Although Jasper is a fictional character, the other characters in the story were real people, and the events are soundly based on factual accounts. Ages 9 to 12.

A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple, Mayflower 1620(Dear America), by Kathryn Lasky.  

In this entry in the Dear America series, subtitled ``The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple,'' Lasky demonstrates how vigorous historical fiction can enliven the facts found in most textbooks. The Pilgrims, as they came to be known, traveled in a small cargo ship, the Mayflower, for two miserable months of bad food, unfit drinking water, vicious storms, and sheer boredom on a leaky old vessel that had never been intended for human cargo and lacked even the most basic amenities.

Mem, one of the 34 children among the 102 people on board, tells the story in diary entries. Almost as bad as the journey was what the travelers found when it was over. Mem's story is one of incredible courage in the face of almost insurmountable obstacles, but it is also a story of real people with all their foibles, who refuse to give up no matter what happens. In the course of these inspiring events, Mem herself almost gives up, but a sense of humor and her hopes for the future carry her through the worst of them.  Ages 9-12.

Younger Students:
…If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620, by Ann McGovern.  

 Written in a question and answer format, this delightful book keeps readers busy with all kinds of information about the Pilgrims and their journey – perfect for the inquisitive child filled with questions! Ages 5 and up.


Older Students:

For those interested in the Mayflower and sailing ships, this book has been written by an expert in sailing and navigation. Using tide and sunrise tables, along with other information, the author traces the voyage of the Mayflower to the New World. Ages 14 and up.


Be sure to join us on our Thanksgiving Facebook Co-op for community, caring and creativity this season!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sweet Land of Liberty

We have some Sweet Specials for you this week!

Elections 2012

We the people ARE the government here in America – we elect our leaders to lead our country and represent us through our elections! By voting, we are able to express our own opinions on issues through our choices of candidates. As the next generation begins to mature and prepare to be a part of their communities, they need to understand that their vote is their voice. The freedom to vote and choose our government representatives is a freedom that has been obtained and defended at the cost of many precious lives. They need to understand the election process, the workings of American government and the impact that they can have on the process as well as the future of our country. Written for grades K - 12. Don't miss the FREE companion Lapbook!


This two-week study will provide an understanding of what will be happening and the significance of each part of the transfer of power in Washington. We will be looking at the history of inaugurations in America – when and where they took place, how the ceremony changed as the times changed, what was said during some of the inaugural addresses, and much more.

Complete and ready to use, this study contains two weeks of daily lessons written at two levels, one for elementary grades and one for Jr./Sr. High grades. The study requires no other books--it includes Internet links throughout the lessons for the use of the students when other resources are helpful.


To enrich your study of the upcoming inauguration, we also recommend our FREE U.S. Presidents' Inaugural Speeches compilation.  Download yours now!


Save BIG when you buy the entire


Veterans Day--what does it mean to you? The history of this holiday is important; it exists because of the strength and conviction of past generations that we should always remember our veterans and their sacrifices for our peace and protection. Use this week-long study to become familiar with veterans, their sacrifices and their courage. Learn more about the American military system, how it protects us, and what is happening these days with our defense.  This wonderful study is non-consumable and can be used year after year and includes notebooking pages too!

*Veterans Day is a limited-availability excerpt from Patriotic Holidays, a four-week study which devotes one week to the exploration of each of the American patriotic holidays:  Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day